Mighty White of You
j.p. mccabe

Dear Professor,

This is horrible.

Its like you’re trying to teach on Facebook.

No one goes to Facebook to learn anything. Just this morning, I have been trying to reason with a woman who called me close minded (among other things) because I said I thought that Trump is discrediting and undermining our national security with his twitter posts.

I posted the above screen grab and explained that it wasn’t news that was making me think there was validity in the Russia allegations, it was Trump’s own words.

I explained that using quotes around the word “intelligence” when talking about the FBI and NSA on Twitter was an extremely dangerous thing for a sitting president to do. I said it puts our people in the field who are protecting this country in harm’s way.

I said further that things cannot both be “lies” and “illegal leaks” at the same time. If they are leaks, there is truth; leaks are facts coming out that Trump doesn’t want exposed. If they are lies that is something else entirely.

She proceeded to berate me for “getting news from twitter,” and “accusing her of things,” and “hiding online,” and she told me that she had “better things to do then argue with a frustrated person like me.”

I literally laughed out loud.

Except, none of this is funny.

I explained that she can take a look at my completely open, 100% public Facebook profile as well as her President’s Twitter feed anytime she wanted to do so. I explained I am watching his words, relative of his behavior and putting that in the context of his National Security Advisor’s departure.

I have been highly empathetic and very reasonable with this person, but all that I have gotten from her (so far) is extreme — heckling is the only way to describe it.

I think my exchanges this morning are silly goofy things on social media, but in the classroom, I would think it was approaching insubordination or violating a code of conduct. The purpose of higher education is to learn.

How privileged these kids must be that they can afford to waste an opportunity that so many are denied — and waste the same for others?

I don’t blame the students of color for dropping the class. They are missing an opportunity to work with a good professor as far as I can tell. So, I don’t blame them for dropping — not on account of you, but on account of the fact that those students were using your classroom as a platform to spew hatred.

It must be so hard to know what to do when you value an even exchange of ideas and are trying to engage students with the material. In my mind, the students would hear about my expectations for discourse, respect in discussions and if they could not conform to those standards, I’d warn them once before dismissing them for a few days.

If they dropped the class after that, good riddance. I know that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, but

Dear Professor, there is only so much you can do when people confuse the right to free speech with the privilege of having a platform.

The privilege of having a platform is one you earned. I am certain you didn’t earn that by disrespecting your teachers and the other students in your classes.

I wish you the best of luck. I hope that this was simply a bad group. I wonder if watching American History X might be valuable in the classroom? It is a good movie. Violent in some scenes, but worthwhile to see. The main character did learn how to behave differently. It was very sad… I don’t know.

I hope to read an update from you soon.


-Cyborg 🌺